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Interview: Mutantgreens

Mutantgreens's debut album ‘SILENT PILLARS’ is a diverse collection of dark electronic sounds and a shadowy vessel into the atramentous lore of ‘The Outfields’. We were lucky enough to have a chat with Mutantgreens about the origins of the project, creation of his new album and beyond. Enjoy!

Congrats on the new album! Let’s begin with the inception of Mutantgreens, how did the project come to be?

Thank you! Weirdly, I just felt like I wasn’t listening to the exact sounds I wanted to, so I decided I’d try and make my own music. I was also inspired by an interview with Grimes where she said anyone could make music with just a computer to start, so I guess she was right about that. I think I had always been around music creation in some form as I used to hang out with a friend who was always creating tracks and I used to love watching him create/compose, so I think my interest in production had always been there, I just hadn’t actualised it.

For the name, I had an extra instagram account named Mutantgreens that was just sat around and I was like wow ok, that’s me. The name can be whatever the listener wants it to be, but in my head it’s just a fusion of a variety of green shades…?

I’m also a pretty keen runner and wanted to craft some heavy beats to get me through the highs and lows of a long run… not sure about that logic entirely, but that’s how Celestial Nerve in particular came to be.

We really dig the dark blend of aggressive industrial techno, drum & bass and ambient noise on ‘Silent Pillars’. What are some of the influences that drew you to this sound?

I love listening to all music, but in terms of music that I wanted to create, I had a tight soundscape that I wanted to hone in on. Main inspirations for SILENT PILLARS were producers such as Lone, Burial, Yagya, Boston 168, Ross from Friends, Grimes, and Altered Natives. I’ve been a huge fan of Lone since 2010 and his music has been a huge part of my life - I highly recommend his tracks Tree for Tree & Vapour Trails.

The rest came to me much later into my life, but each has played a part in shaping my main music taste. Loner by Burial and London Gods by Altered Natives were massively impactful on my first plays and they’ve stuck with me ever since. On the complete other end, a lot of videogames played a part in my love of dark/ambient music such as Haunting Ground, Silent Hill, Dark Souls, and the more ethereal side comes from games like Tekken 4.

Talk us through the writing and recording process, we’d like to hear about how you produced these dark sounds?

I started off with Garageband for my Dark Ethereum EP, but moved to Logic Pro around 3/4 months ago. 4 tracks were originally created on Garageband (Dark Ethereum, Bloodmoors, Demortalisation, Celestial Nerve), but I went back in and ended up slightly re-mixing a few of them on Logic to get them sounding heavier and richer a week before I sent it off for mastering - it was a nice moment for me to see how far I had come. I produced the music myself in my back room with a mic (RODE NT1) I’ve had for years now and basically wanted to keep it as cheap as possible. I do own a physical synth (ROLAND JD-XI) that makes an appearance in the album sporadically, but it ended up taking a back seat overall. I spent so many bank holidays and weekends in my west-facing back room in 36 degree heat during the brutal Tokyo summer. It was intense since I’m not a fan of hot weather, but I guess the album’s descent into the concept of suffering coincides well with my hatred of extreme heat.

When starting a track, I usually just mess with the built in synths until I hear some dark/sharp tones that I like and then work from there. For SILENT PILLARS, I actually started writing notes about each track before I had even started the creation on Logic to build an atmosphere I could work with, which sped up the track creation process and helped me finally reach a deadline. Nearing the end of the album I had no idea when to stop and it was a good month of just tinkering with the smallest things before I finally just stopped.

All the lyrics kind of fell into the songs after they were created, I had no idea what they’d end up being at the time, but the titles were set very early on. I remember for Dark Ethereum it was pure fluke from my second take of just rambling that I got the right sentiment. Once a track is around 70/80% done, I just hit go with the vocals and hum/shout words until I find the flow and then go back and write in the lyrics usually trying to match the syllable count with the random words I had used. I really love messing with as many plug-ins as I can to transform my voice into super highs and lows to give menacing sound bites and unnatural whispers/hums. Sometimes I even sacrificed the harmony of the song to really force in some dissonance. I used a lot of reverb and a lot of space designer.

I hadn’t planned on mastering the album, but I ended up finding a really nice mastering engineer on Instagram (@hexaudiolabs) and got each track tweaked to perfection. They did such a sick job! It was the best investment I made of the whole album.

‘SILENT PILLARS’ is a conceptual piece based around the ‘Outfields’. We’re interested to hear some of the lore surrounding this?

Yeah, this is literally how the album came to be. My initial EP, Dark Ethereum, birthed the concept of immortals who had lived for so long they were desperate for some form of end, which is how they found themselves in the Dark Ethereum. There, I envisioned almost desecrated entities crawling into these huge animal carcasses seeping with neon blue mist and fusing themselves to the remains through a process I called ‘Demortalisation’, to become beings that willingly gave up their limitless immortality to exist in a limited form of stasis, one of which they can never reverse. I’m not religious at all, but I think a lot of fictitious religion and dogma sit within this album.

The Outfields is an unending state of chaos that replaced the universe it is based in. All sentience was dragged into this chaos and the Outfields is a sort of ‘hellscape’ with different areas where you cannot die, only suffer. Other tracks focus in on the story of the sanctified pillars (Bark of Tree Marrow of Bone), but I guess it wouldn’t be as mystifying if I explained the entire story here?

I really wanted to ground the album with a time and place to help me limit the sounds/areas I could go with it. It really helped bring a consistent tone to each track, the end result of which I’m really happy with. I wanted to reject the idea of emotion for this project, too, and simply tell an unbiased story/fable of an other-world through sound. I love nihilistic, dark worlds full of misery and pain, so it was quite easy for me to construct these areas in my head. At one point I had written the intro of a book about the Outfields, but I have no idea where it is. The original title of the album was ‘Silent Pillar Compendium’, but I think it was the right call to change it to SILENT PILLARS.

I think my experience with the Dark Souls’ series really can also be heard in the album and in its lore. That emphasis of ‘death isn’t the end’ and the unending repetition of the same makes me feel hugely comforted. I used to be so afraid of the idea of dying and there not being a ‘start over’ option once you went… I guess this album is kind of my way of leaving my handprint on the world. I made this album to outlast me.

The album artwork is bold and ominous, could you tell us about its concept and creation?

I went through so many different pieces of art until I settled on this. Originally, it was a much more abstract image of hands seemingly grasping at mauled bodies (which is included in the free art book that comes with a Bandcamp purchase of SILENT PILLARS), but I wanted to drive the focus to the main character of this album, DÆYN, who is the sole cause of the birthing of the Outfields.

A slight wild card, but I find the concept of men in pain in art really interesting and the album is semi-homo-erotic from how I envisaged most of these scenarios and areas being battlegrounds for disillusioned warriors wanting to fight for honour, though it being completely futile. I love historical art pieces depicting an almost romanticisation of male suffering/martyrdoms like the works that surround the death of Saint Sebastian. Similarly, I’ve always thought sirens luring sailors to their death was such a sick way of highlighting man’s internal battle with lust and hubris, which is another theme of the album. It felt right to conceptualise him as the main cover because I’d like people to come up with their own ideas about how the Outfields looks, but have an idea of who caused it.

We’d love to hear Mutantgreens live, any plans to hit the road?

100%! Honestly, it is next on my list, but I’m still so new to producing that I feel like I need to teach myself how to play live properly. I actually only started making music just over a year ago, so to say I now have an album is such an accomplishment for me, but there’s still so much more learning to be done. I found a place online recently that works with artists without labels, so I’m thinking of contacting them now that the album is out.

You’re currently based in Manchester, UK, is there a dark music scene? If so, are there any acts that we should know about?

Actually, I am now based in Tokyo. I’m originally from Stockport in Greater Manchester, but have been here since 2019 (just before covid began). I feel like there’s probably a large dark music scene in Manchester that one day I'd like to get involved with. I’d love to play at Satan’s Hollow, or at least hear my music there, but I think I’ll need to perform a bit more first. Most of the acts that I find are through Instagram because I haven’t met many similar artists in Tokyo, but there’s still the rest of my life to get that part down. I’m not sure if it is classed as dark music, but Zo Abalone has some great tunes - Sight / Precious Crystals really came to me at a time when a lot was going wrong in my life. Luckily for me, I’m really great right now.

Finally, what’s next for Mutantgreens?

I hadn’t even asked myself this question…

I guess I am finally free from the Outfields’ extremely constricting grasp, so I wanna just roll with the album, play live where I can and then continue to improve my art.

I really want to soak in this album and then I’ll be back at some point with a new EP. Whatever I make next will still be story-driven, but I will be ready to explore a much wider range of concepts and offer myself new avenues. Though, I think I will continue to force myself to follow some specific limitations because it worked so well this time. I’d also love to work with indie game developers and help produce music/soundscapes for them to use in their games. I'd also love to get my music licensed in a cyberpunk/horror/story driven game. That would be really sick.

'SILENT PILLARS' is available to purchase digitally via bandcamp.

Follow Mutantgreens on Instagram.

Follow Mutantgreens on Spotify.

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